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Troops trade fire near Sialkot

January 20, 2002

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ISLAMABAD, Jan 19: Pakistani and Indian troops traded heavy fire across their tense border along Pakistan’s central province of Punjab, witnesses said on Saturday.

“There has been intense firing throughout the night,” a witness in the Pakistani border town of Sialkot said.

He said Indian forces fired mortars into the Bajwat sector, about 30km from Sialkot, and the Pakistani forces returned fire. There was no immediate word about casualties.

An Indian defence spokesman in Jammu town, which lies across the border from Sialkot and is the winter capital of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir state, denied the incident.

“There has been absolutely no firing or shelling on the Line of Control or the international border through last night and until now,” the spokesman told Reuters in Jammu.

“There is no substance in the report. It is baseless.”

The Pakistani and Indian armies have been exchanging fire almost daily since tensions surged after a deadly Dec 13 attack on the Indian parliament, which New Delhi has blamed on Pakistan-based militants fighting Indian rule in Kashmir. Pakistan condemned the attack.

The nuclear-armed neighbours, which have fought three wars since independence in 1947, have massed hundreds of thousands of troops to their common border since the parliament attack.

Police in Azad Kashmir reported no firing for a third consecutive night along a ceasefire line separating the two armies in the disputed Himalayan region.—Reuters